Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Administration: Administrative control of the formal education system is fairly highly centralized. The Ministry of Education was first established in 1954 under the Premier while Barbados was still a British colony. In 1958, a separate ministry was created with its own staff of administrative and technical offices.
The Ministry is divided into two main sections, technical and administrative. The Chief Education Officer is in charge of the technical staff and is the chief professional advisor. The Permanent Secretary is the chief administrative officer with responsibility for finance. The primary schools are administered directly by the Ministry of Education; the secondary schools have Boards of Management that are appointed by and answer to the Minister of Education. All tertiary-level institutions have Boards of Management, except for UWI, which is a regional institution.
Finance: For more than three decades, Barbados has been committed to a policy of free education from primary schools to university. Between 1990 and 1999 an average of 20 percent of the public expenditure was devoted to education. This level of social investment led the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to rank Barbados the top Caribbean country in human development. In its 1998 Human Development Report, the UNDP said Barbados ranks first overall in health, education, and average standard of living for the Caribbean region and 24th in the world rankings.
The education reform initiatives outlined in the 1995 White Paper were estimated to cost $35 million (Barbadian dollars) over a five-year period (1995-2000). In addition, the Ministry sought US$82 million in foreign and regional financing to fund a wide variety of projects. For example, in 1998 the Inter-American Development Bank approved a US$85 million loan to Barbados to support modernization of the education system and to prepare primary and secondary students for an information and technology-based economy of the twenty-first century. Primary and secondary schools began rehabilitation and re-equipment programs to make them computer and network ready, with computers gradually introduced in all classrooms. Teacher and student training to support the modernization process were included. Media centers created in each classroom include a TV set, videocassette recorder, and TV-OC converter. An additional joint venture by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank resulted in a loan to Barbados of US$116.5 million to implement a computer-aided education program called EduTech 2000. The funds supported the purchase of about 10,000 computers for primary, secondary, and special education schools.
Educational Research: Educational research efforts called for in the 1995 White Paper included the adoption of a new teacher appraisal system; the establishment of a Teachers' Service Commission and a Curriculum Development Council; the provision of a national diagnostic assessment at the primary level; and new legislation establishing a council responsible for certification and articulation of programs at the secondary and tertiary levels.
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